Listen in as John Carlton talks about the growing digital publishing industry and shares tips on how to get your first Kindle out there
Topics discussed in this podcast:
01:52 – John gets into Kindle publishing
02:49 – The massive switch to digital books
07:37 – Reusing content in multiple ways
10:32 – Publishing is a marketing tool
15:23 – Evergreen content and the magic of podcasting
21:00 – Be your own media mogul
30:29 – One mistake John had with his first book
32:48 – Digging into the technical stuff
38:38 – Proofreading and formatting
45:49 – Dealing with good and bad reviews
49:59 – Getting your word document published on Kindle
52:23 – The human side of Kindle
53:50 – How to market your publication
58:46 – What’s next for John
01:01:15 – Where can you find John?
01:04:12 – Check out Karmas Relent on Facebook
If you want to be successful in life, you make two lists… [Click To Tweet].
The ride is too short. Life is too short to not have fun- John Carlton. [Click To Tweet].
To make a good podcast or write a good book or have a good career, it’s really important to know what you’re willing to do [Click To Tweet].
James Schramko here. Welcome to another SuperFastBusiness.com interview. This time I’ve got a really good friend of mine back for another interview; we’ve done a few before. I’d like to welcome John Carlton.
John: James, how are you doing?
James: Good. How do we bill you these days? Used to be “the most ripped off copywriter ever.” Are you now like a publishing mogul or something?
John: No, I still prefer “the most ripped off marketing guru in existence” just because my stuff has been ripped off a lot. But that was just me positioning myself in front of the pirates, so they didn’t get all the joy out of it.
I couldn’t stop the piracy so I thought I just take a little juice out of them. But, yeah, I’m actually kind of semi-retired which for me means working 30 hours a week instead of the 70 I was when I was running a full-time business.
So I settled back and I started doing more writing, and my passion now is very much in writing for wider and wider audiences. So the blog was good up to a point. I had a newsletter that some people still remember called The Marketing Rebel Rant from about 2001 until 2008 or 2009 when I put that to bed and moved over full time to the blog. And now I’m into Kindle publishing.
It’s a glorious time to be a self-publisher, and the tipping point just happened recently. We’ve just gone into this world where Amazon, God bless them, has bought up CreateSpace and created this amazing paradigm for people to get published digitally up for Kindle and get published with printed books that will be printed on order.
In other words you can now have a printed book now with CreateSpace which is a physical publishing arm of Amazon. You don’t have to print out any books beforehand. They will print the book when they receive an order. They’ll print it, they’ll ship it and you pay them a certain amount… not very much. Not as much as the traditional publishers used to get and suddenly yes, you are a publishing mogul with your first book.
James: Yeah, that’s cool. You see some of those terrible shots of people who have stacks of books in their garage. They have to take some huge print run as their upfront expense and then they have trouble distributing it. But now… I guess it’s the distribution model that’s changed with Kindle.
John: Exactly! And the distribution and the printing thing and the… of course the more wider acceptance of tablet-style reading formats. More and more people are OK with Kindle or NOOK, whatever it is that they chose and Kindle is going to win eventually of course, but people are now very casual about reading digital books and download. And their library now mostly consist of digital books.
Sometimes they will buy the physical books just to have it, you know, so they have a physical library. They want the physical thing in their possession. I know that while I published my first book, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together” just for Kindle for the first few months is now ready in print and a lot of people have put off buying it because they wanted it in print.
A lot of people read it and they still want the print version just because. So it’s an interesting world. So the distribution is all of the old formats of distribution. In other words, like I just found out “50 Shades of Grey,” you’ve probably heard of that book. That started out as a self published book.
Sold about a quarter of a million copies, caught the attention of the regular publishing world and they got published by a big name publishing house and I can’t think of the name of it. And so they covered all of the areas. It was digital. They printed their own, shipped them out and they got picked up by a regular publisher.
So the distribution channels included anything that would go from Amazon, you know, Quick Buy, and it’s immediately downloaded on your Kindle to you could ask for a regular copy to be shipped to you through Amazon to going to bookstores and finding it available there. So all that is still possible.
But for entrepreneurs, big one is Kindle and the ability to have books printed that you could buy for, I think, I’m guessing here James because I’m not positive, I think as low as like three bucks, you could get a rather large book printed and sent to you as the author and then you can have a stack of them that you could give out at events or use as your calling card, which is the main reason a lot of people want a book written in the first place.
It’s like street cred way beyond “wow” factor. And my print book… excuse me… my book sells for example for $9.99, I think for Kindle. And if you want a printed copy, it’ll be $25. You’ll have to spend a little more. And I’m not going to push the print quite as hard but people want the print so they’ll have it; and I’m going to buy some print copies to just send to colleagues, to have around, and sometimes you.
If I do speak at an event where it is relevant for me to giveaway books, I may giveaway a whole bunch of those books. Because within the book that I have, there are calls to action throughout the book, independent of the content. So it’s pure content, at the end of each chapter I throw in a little call to action to head over to my blog to buy my other books or get a hold of me for consultation or whatever. That make sense?
James: That’s nice. Yeah, you’re catering for each of your markets. But so far publishing a book is going to increase your authority. It’s something that everyone can do. You might as well be going for Kindle.
I actually published something early 2012 about the trends and some of the things that were interesting to me were the people who use a Kindle book read far more frequently; 86% once a week versus 51% of book readers. And there was all sorts of other stats. But I was a slow convert now and I moved across because we didn’t really have Kindle here in Australia but I started on the iPad.
Now they’re prevalent and you can buy them everywhere but I’ve actually… If I were going to buy a book on Amazon and they don’t have it in Kindle, I actually won’t buy it anymore and that’s a big turnaround for me and I’ve got a couple of thousand books sitting in boxes and shelves and stuff.
And they’re now more of a hindrance than an asset and you can buy the great classics on Kindle these days. I noticed you could buy the Robert Collier, that little blue book in Kindle version.
We’ve watched some of the other people in your network like Bond Halbert and you. These Kindles are coming through and I can only see it growing. So I’d love to talk about the steps involved. So, on a side note while we are on the topic of publishing, I think a lot of people are donating their absolute best content to platforms like Facebook.
So one thing you have done well is at least put your good pieces of content on your own website and it’s something that I teach with my OwnTheRacecourse philosophy. It’s like building your own asset and I think making Kindles and books is the next logical extension of that.
When you were going to assemble your Kindle, is part of your process to go and have a look at the stats on your blog and see which posts were more popular or more visited?
John: Well, it’s interesting you bring that up and let me just back up a minute and tell you where the content comes from. This first Kindle book that I had is the best 17 newsletters that I wrote between 2001 and I think 2008 or was it 2009? And I had over 60 newsletters.
All of them… when I wrote the newsletters, by the way, following what you would say would be a plan, was I tried to keep them as evergreen as possible, meaning very little in the newsletters would date them, except for changes in the technology. If I, you know talked about this “new” thing called AdWords coming out…
So when I went back, I would have to edit it a little bit, but because the newsletters were meant to be evergreen, meaning you could read the book 20 years from now, it’d still be relevant, because I talked about the human parts of marketing and the fundamentals of marketing in ways that will be relevant no matter when, you know, even if we’re down the line and Google Glasses are the way most people communicate.
You know it’s still going to be relevant. So I had those newsletters. Then I had the blog. I’ve got like six or seven years of the blog post. And I do have them rated by comments. Not so much by eyeballs getting on there. But for me, as a lazy way to do it, and because I get a lot of comments, the number of comments actually raise the profile of a lot of the blog posts.
So I can almost judge just by the comments and the interaction in the comments which ones hit a nerve and which ones didn’t. I didn’t have to go to Google Analytics for example.
And then I’ve got a lot of writing on my Facebook. As you know, I do very long Facebook posts and a lot of those I’ve actually channeled over to the podcast that we’re doing. The PI4MM.com which stands for Psych Insights for Modern Marketers that Kevin Rogers and I are doing. So, I guess the point I’m saying is that I’m reusing the content in multiple ways. Then the third book I’ll probably come out with will be of the best blog post.
So you asked essentially how do you define “best,” and the thing about doing the book is what’s great about self-publishing is that you can kind of ignore some of the rules. There are a lot of marketers in our space out there who are insisting that they know the secrets quote unquote of self-publishing and Kindle publishing, things like these.
I will tell you that right now, and this will date this podcast, James, but right now, nobody knows. That we don’t know what’s going on. I would recommend that you write the book to suit yourself.
That you… that we could talk a little bit about how to make that fast and don’t get tied in to any one book, especially your first one thinking, this is going to be the legacy that I’m, you know that defines who I am and how I’m thought of long after I’m dead and all that. Just get away from that. This is a tool. This is a tool for your credibility. This is a tool for your marketing. Publishing is tool for spreading the word.
Now I like to put out really excellent content. So my content is pristine, stands on its own and then I tack on calls to action just because it’s a wasted opportunity to help someone get further into my world if they like what they read and anything that I write.
And so that makes the book a little more direct response than a regular book that didn’t have a call to actions and a lot of traditional publishers frown on marketers doing that: putting in any overt calls to action to get the names back because the publishing world is in upheaval right now. It’s in total chaos.
And the classic publishers really don’t have much of a clue about direct response marketing which is, you know, setting up a lot of desire and asking for some kind of action and bringing in people into your world where you can build up your list.
So, entrepreneurs right now have a real advantage in this and now with the book you can control the whole thing. You control start to finish. So make it the way… write these books or create these books if you’re doing your first one, how you would want your first conversation to go with somebody that you have sitting in front of you.
Say somebody that was a prospect or was a long-time customer or whatever. Just make that conversation into a book form. It’s often…I mean you really could do phone calls that you’ve done if you do teleseminars or you’re on the phone with clients frequently or something. Record that stuff and get it down. There’s almost always good information.
If you’re a man of high integrity giving high quality content, no matter how you’re giving it out, whether you’re writing blog post, doing little Facebook snippets, as long as you keep track of that stuff, very quickly you can have enough for a book. And then you don’t need to call it a book by the way, James.
That’s another key thing I was talking with Brian Kurtz from Boardroom about this. He’s about to write his first book and so we were chatting about the ways to position it.
You know when I wrote my very first book back in 2001, “Kickass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel,” I called that a book and I wrote it by chapters and then I thought, you know I would’ve make it a course. It just… the book doesn’t give it enough “oomph” in my world. So I changed the chapter headings to section headings inside.
I added some workbook things in there. I did an audio version of the books that came along with this and started adding more like homework assignments. And in less than a day, I turned it into a course as opposed to a book. There are also guides, there are confessionals, there are all kinds of ways you can position what you do here so you’re not confined to what you think is, you know, THE Book, or A Book.
Mike Keenan famously when he was otherwise involved over the course of the last year or so, was having little time to devote to marketing. He had some serious issues happening and then he talks about this a lot. He was kind of facing the life and death situation. He still had time to slam out a couple of books that he then hands out to, at seminars, and people keep these books.
They love them. They’re very short, 30-40 pages, I think. I’m not sure, I don’t have them right here with me. But the books don’t have to be long. The content is much more important than the way it’s positioned or played out and you can be as professional as you want. With a simple hiring of a good designer, he can quickly give you a good cover and a back cover that you can then sandwich your black and white content in between.
And if you want to put photos in there, that’s fine, but regular, black and white content without a lot of photos, without a lot of complex art in there, can get your ready right away to have something ready for Kindle.
James: OK, so, a couple of points here: Firstly just backing up there about the evergreen nature of it. As I’m going through preparing a book, there is that balance. Part of it is well thinking, quite a bit of permanency to creating something like this.
You want it to be relevant in a couple of years because, gosh, if you’re putting up stuff a few years ago in the Internet marketing space, it’ll be completely useless now. So I’m focusing more on the core topics that I’ve been doing for a decade or more in business. So I’m making a business book.
John: By the way, Shrak, if you need to say something, you can always say, for example, in 2010 or 2013, let’s say you’re writing this right now, in 2013 AdWords is charging blank for this particular, you know, series of search engine topics or whatever. So you position it.
So in 2019, when this information is six years old, you’re still saying, you know, in 2013 you position it that way. This is what was happening and then you could actually edit back in and go and in 2019, here’s that situation you know, progressed and whatever.
James: Nice. Well, I hope they’re still reading my book in six years from now. And the second thing is, glad you made the point that I think some people have spent too much expectation in a book. I’ve actually picked up students who have paid a god-awful amount of money, like $20, $30,000 to some expert who was going to get them their book and make them famous and they’ve printed it, it’s out there, the boxes are sitting in the garage.
They’re not famous, no one’s buying the book, and they’re lucky if they can speak in front of 20 or 30 people to sell their book at the back of the room for 20 bucks; or they have to give the promoter a box of books. It’s like this.. .it’s just a part of the journey but like someone else describe it, it’s probably like a golden business card that’s a very heavy, solid, validated business card.
It still works today that the whole concept of being a published author and while we’re on the topic of publishing, I am…. just before we go to the “how to” part, I am interested in just finding out how your podcast is going because I’m a massive fan of podcast. I’ve been doing it for so long. And it’s easier for me to talk than to write which is why I ended up podcasting before I made a book or a Kindle. How’s that going with you and K. Rog?
John: You know it’s going very, very well. Kevin came to me, just to let you know the actual background, he said, this post that I was doing infrequently but I do them, I called Psych Insights on my Facebook page was just the stuff that I’ve learnt from my 30-year career starting with a degree in Psychology and moving through understanding or trying to interview and working with streetwise salesman.
Like Gary Halbert and J. Abraham, guys who actually sold on the street who had face to face sales experience. And I was taking great pains to understand as to how sales happen face to face because I knew that once I can break that code, you can expand that and use it in any kind of marketing that you have.
So I’ve always been interested in the psychological aspects of this and Kevin thought, this would be a perfect podcast. Why not get those going? So I said OK if you do all the work, and we have Brian McCloud, who we call Brain with much respect, help him with the design and the implementation. I say as long as you guys take, you do all the hard work. All I got to do is sit down you know, once a week and participate in the podcast, I’m all for it.
And It’s been going very, very well. I would say the key is to, you know, Shrak I’ve told you about the two-list thing before. You know if you want to be successful in life, you make two lists. You make a list of what you want to do in life and you make a list of what you don’t want to do. And then for the rest of your life as much as you can, you don’t do what you don’t want to do and you do what you want to do. And you adjust that as you go.
To make a good podcast or write a good book or have a good career, it’s really important to know what you’re willing to do, what you don’t want to do, what you do want to do, what you’re willing to do for a short period of time until you get to the point where you don’t have to do it anymore. So have good people around you.
Find a good designer for the cover of your book. Find somebody who understands posting and doing all the audio stuff ready for podcast. I learned this from Dean Jackson who helped me get one of the first podcasts out back in, I think it was 2004 or something. It was way back there so I had early marketing podcast on iTunes because talking to Dean Jackson and being able to borrow his “geek” at the time. It worked out very, very well.
So our podcast… we’re getting ready to do number 4. It’s going quite well. We’re getting interaction in the comments which is interesting because an old… you know, an old school marketer like me really wants to get in the threads and the comments and that isn’t always the case in podcasts. It’s like the podcast is over with, when you’ve listened to the podcast and there’s not a lot of that posts, listening to that stuff back and forth.
I like that a lot so I really enjoyed it. To me, podcasting fulfills my dream of a kid in bed with the transistor radio with the covers pulled over my head listening to rock and roll late at night and listening to DJs on radio talk and do stuff… to me, that was magical. So for me podcasting gets that childhood love of radio, you know even though it’s online.
Publishing fulfills my yearning to be my own publisher which actually started at the same time. The 50s, early 50s, was a classic time for regular publishers. Guys like Hugh Hefner, for 600 bucks could get a magazine empire started because distribution was open. There were no monopolies. It’s just wide open and then that all changed by the 60s and that’s why the innovative new publishers started appearing.
It was hard to get a magazine going because of the distribution. Now all that’s changed. It’s all in its head. It can do a podcast and essentially be your own producer of a show, your own distributor of a show, and there’s all these things to help you through iTunes and through Amazon and the same with publishing.
So for anybody who’s had a dream of being in control, of being their own publisher or their own producer, having their own network, it’s all at your fingertips right now.
This, I can’t emphasize how exciting this is for anyone and if anyone out there is taking this for granted, I would caution them that things change very quickly and if your niche is underserved with podcast and or books, now is the opportunity to get in there. To move fast, and there’s ways to do that.
James: Yeah, I was thinking of Felix Dennis, Richard Branson… there were some of the other people who took on the publishing empire but it would have had to do a lot more than what you had to do these days to get traction back then. And then I’m thinking about other self-publishers in other medium.
And “Believe,” from watching the documentary and don’t shit on me for this but I did watch the Justin Bieber documentary and he was working his butt off on a street corner one minute and then publishing YouTube videos the next and got picked up and you know, everyone knows how famous he is now. That’s from just turning the recorder on and putting it in front of eyeballs.
And while we’re on that, I’ll do say a personal heartfelt thank you for helping my son become a publisher because you saw him playing Guitar Hero and you said to me, “Get him off that game and get him a real guitar.”